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Tulsa: Oral Roberts has faith in university leader Mark Rutland

BY SHANNON MUCHMORE - Tulsa World Modified: February 15, 2009 at 12:11 am •  Published: February 15, 2009
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Oral Roberts said Saturday the university he founded is in good hands with the family of Mart Green, which saved the university from near financial ruin more than a year ago.

"It was as if we’d known each other all our lives,” Roberts said. "And they picked it up and never missed a beat.”

Roberts, visiting the university for its homecoming celebration, spoke with the Tulsa World between festivities. He last came to the university in late 2007, when he addressed students and faculty amid scandal and financial concerns.

Roberts said he never feared ORU would be forced to shut down, and that "if God hadn’t sent the Green family, he would have sent somebody else.”

The 91-year-old Roberts said creating the university was a crowning achievement in his life.

"Oral Roberts University is the No. 1 thing that stands out in my heart, because youth are the future, and I knew that,” he said.

Roberts spoke sparingly of ORU’s troubled past 15 months, as the university faced $55 million in debt and multiple lawsuits from former employees and students.

He said he didn’t know whether his son, former ORU President Richard Roberts, had misused university money or abused his power, as is alleged in the lawsuits. Oral Roberts said he did not think his son had done wrong.

Richard Roberts resigned in 2007, and Oral Roberts said Saturday he did not discuss that decision with his son. He declined to discuss his son’s future.

Clutching a bright red Bible in his lap, Oral Roberts said the university’s incoming president, Mark Rutland, has his full faith. Rutland was the only person he seriously considered for the job, he said.

"He’ll have a great opportunity to excel and take this school to a new level,” Roberts said.

Rutland, sitting to Roberts’s right, held his hand and thanked him for the sentiment.